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Greencastle seeks support from state Rep. Rock

December 07, 2010|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE — Radar, the prevailing wage, public bidding contracts and blighted neighborhoods are legislative changes sought in a letter to state Rep. Todd Rock from the Greencastle Borough Council.
Rock, R-Franklin, said Tuesday he would support the changes.
The letter was signed by Borough Council President Charles R. Eckstine and Mayor Robert E. Eberly.
Their letter said the change in power from Democrats to Republicans in the state house and governor’s mansion “would appear to present new opportunities for legislative changes that boroughs and townships throughout the Commonwealth have sought for a number of years.”
The four issues, if passed, “could reduce threats to the Borough’s fiscal condition and enhance its ability to provide for the public health, safety and welfare of the community.”
On the prevailing wage issue, Rock said changes to the law have long been needed.
The law as it stands increases construction costs on publicly funded projects because contractors have to pay  workers according to rates prescribed by the law, he said. The wages are based on what workers receive in metropolitan areas rather than the lower rates paid in rural areas, Rock said.
“We’ve tried for years to change things, but it won’t be easy because the unions are opposed to it. They still have a strong voice in both parties,” he said.  “Changing the law would save taxpayers money in the rural municipalities,” he said.
Rock said it makes sense to raise the threshold for contract bidding by local municipalities to save time and money.
Under the current limit, purchases for goods and services below the $10,000 threshold can be made without bids or advertising, he said.
“If, for example, the borough wants to buy some pipe for a project and it costs more than $10,000 they just can’t go to a local supplier. They have to advertise and go out for bids,” he said. “We want to raise the limit to $25,000. That would be very helpful to the municipalities.”
As for radar, it can only be used by the state police, not the boroughs and townships. “We’ve been trying to pass it for at least five sessions but the state police keep opposing it,” Rock said.
Both houses passed Senate Bill 900 which allows municipalities to address blighted properties but the bill has been sitting unsigned on outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell’s desk, Eckstine and Eberly said in their letter.
They asked Rock to bring it up again in the next session if Rendell fails to sign the bill.
Rendell, a Democrat, is being succeeded by Gov. Elect Tom Corbett, a Republican.
The new makeup of the House will give Republicans a 20-vote margin over Democrats and a 29-21 advantage in the Senate, Rock said.

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